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News Updates--The Sweet Life

Vivia Chen

March 17, 2011

  Cupcake Maybe it's just me, but I find something heart-warming about the idea of high-powered lawyers tied up in apron strings, stirring batter in the kitchen. That's probably why I got so excited when I read in The Blog of Legal Times that 14 Washington, D.C., firms participated in the eleventh annual Cooking for Kids Bake Sale and Taste-off Competition, a charity event organized by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. Arent Fox, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, and Beveridge & Diamond took the top prizes.

But, alas, I was mighty disappointed that none of the winning bakers were lawyers. Instead, the winning treats were baked by a law librarian (Courtney Keaton of Arent Fox for chocolate chip cookies/brownie bars); a lawyer's wife (Dede Smith, the spousal unit of Wilmer litigator Stephen Smith, for cherry chocolate cake); and the assistant to one of the partners (Linda Bettencourt of Beveridge & Diamond for blueberry pie).

I know lawyers are awfully busy--but having your wife, office assistant, or librarian do the baking? That's pretty lame. Don't you guys have any pride? I mean, is this 1965?

Speaking of baking, there seems to be an ongoing love affair between lawyers and cupcakes. In fact, the baking business seems to be emerging as the alternative career of choice for lawyers.

David Lat at Above The Law noticed the trend last year, when he recounted various cake-baking enterprises started by former lawyers. (Sadly, as Lat recently reported, one of those ventures, Cupcake Stop by New York Law grad Lev Ekster, just folded. But Crumbs, started by another NY Law alum, Mia Bauer, is a success.) I noticed that trend myself--recently, Weil, Gotshal & Manges partner Jaclyn Cohen told me that she looked into the Buttercup Bake Shop franchise before opening a knitting shop, and back in 2004, I profiled Warren Brown, the government lawyer turned proprietor of bakery CakeLove in D.C.

It seems now that even lawyers across the Pond are getting into the cake act. Former Linklaters associate Harpreet Baura writes in Legalweek that she started a Web-based cupcake company called Crumbs! Couture Cupcake in 2009 and that business is thriving.

But if you think baking is easy, take note of these words of caution from Baura:

My job can still be very stressful, and it still involves long hours. There are huge nerves and a lot of stress involved in doing exhibitions such as the National Wedding Show. And we have also had to work through the night preparing cupcakes for photo shoots. There are often weekends at the peak of the wedding season where we have to prepare and set up about 800 cupcakes in one weekend. Law does teach you how to deal with stressful deadlines and pressure, which prepares you well for the discipline required to run your own business.

Finally, for those who'd rather have their own pastry chef bake the stuff: If you're still dreaming of dumping law for a career that will make you an obscene amount of money, check out The Wall Street Journal's FINS, which recently published a user-friendly guide to the world of finance. The post is a good primer on careers in I-banking, private equity, and hedge funds. It's a nice supplement to our earlier posts about how lawyer can break into finance (Dumping Law for Finance, Part 1 and Part 2).


Do you have topics you'd like to discuss or tips to share? E-mail The Careerist's chief blogger, Vivia Chen, at VChen@alm.com.

Follow The Careerist on Twitter: twitter.com/lawcareerist

Photo: Ruth Black / Fotolia.com





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I guess baking is the new lawyering. As to the bake off, all I can guess is that these lawyers CAN'T bake and are ultra competitive so they hand it over to someone close to them (wife, assistant, librarian) that they can still be proud to be linked to.

Gawd, this column isn't worth reading anymore. Seriously? Cupcakes?

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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